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Only 13 RHIOs Meet Meaningful Use Criteria

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, May 17, 2011

There are 75 operational RHIOs (regional health information organizations) across the U.S. but only 13 of them meet the most basic criteria for meaningful use of health information technology, according to a 2009 study by a group of Harvard University researchers.

With grant support from the federal government, RHIOs provide hospitals and physicians with a single connection to swap clinical data with other participating providers such as labs and public health departments.

To be considered meaningful, providers must have electronic health records and meet these  basic criteria for meaningful use:

  • Transmit prescriptions
  • Exchange key clinical information among care providers
  • Report clinical quality measures

The study shows that despite the promise of more than $30 billion in incentives to stimulate the adoption and meaningful use of electronic health records, the U.S. remains in "an early stage of readiness in terms of the robust exchange of health information," says Julia Adler-Milstein, Ph.D., the lead author for A Survey of Health Information Exchange Organizations in the United States: Implications for Meaningful Use, which was published online Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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2 comments on "Only 13 RHIOs Meet Meaningful Use Criteria"


A. Jan Berlin M.D. (5/25/2011 at 10:40 AM)
It would be helpful to be able to identify the 13 RHIOs that meet the basic criteria without going the the Annals website where one must be a member to view the article cited.

Doug Dietzman (5/20/2011 at 8:45 PM)
I reject the premise of the article and research that suggests a RHIO must meet the wide ranging MU requirements. A RHIO is not an office EMR or clinical data repository nor does it need to provide either one to be a successful RHIO. RHIOs should not be held responsible for actual clinical redesign and care delivery change any more than the claim clearinghouses on the administrative side should be held accountable for revenue cycle redesign or performance within the companies that use them to transact data. RHIOs are not the sole 100% answer to everything needed for MU even though they play a critical role in supporting some of them. Perhaps that is why so many RHIOs find it difficult to get started and remain sustainable because the expectations are unrealistic as to the overall role they play and they try to be all things to all people. RHIOs can make sure data the right data gets where it needs to be when it needs to be there. What the clinicians and other users do with that data has everything to do with whether the patient care and wellness needles move in a positive direction or not. The clinicians must demonstrate meaningful use of technology, a portion of which is served by successful RHIOs.